Top 5 Andy Warhol Films
Andy Warhol‘s films are legendary. He is the inventor of Pop Art: an art that celebrates the symbols and icons of modern life. He produced “icons,” transforming Marilyn Monroe, an electric chair or a Campbell Soup into mass artistic consumer goods. But did you know that Andy Warhol also directed films? Here is an overview of 5 Andy Warhol films you must absolutely know!
1. Lonesome Cowboys, one of Andy Warhol’s films, 1969
Lonesome Cowboys is one of Andy Warhol‘s most ambitious films. With a plot roughly inspired by Romeo and Juliet, the film is a parody of a Western, with a homoerotic gaze. It features cowboys in sexy outfits and plays with the boundaries of heterosexuality. Although shot with a budget of only $3,000, the film brought together personalities close to Andy Warhol such as Taylor Mead or Louis Waldon. But the filming in Atlanta caused a scandal. In August 1969, the police interrupted the shooting of the film and arrested several members of the crew. The event marked a turning point in the awakening of LGBTQ+ consciousness in Atlanta.
2. Screentests, 1964-1966
Strictly speaking, this is not one Andy Warhol film but hundreds of films, of 4 minutes each. Indeed, Andy Warhol’s studio, named “The Factory” was the place to be in New York. Deeply rooted in the artistic and social life of the 1960s and 1970s, many personalities went there. Andy Warhol, accompanied by Gerard Malanga, got into the habit of portraying these prestigious and original guests through 4-minute films. They feature Bob Dylan, Marcel Duchamp, Denis Hopper, the Velvet Underground, and many more.
3. Sleep, 1964
Sleep is one of Andy Warhol’s most experimental films. It is a 4 hour 45 minute film showing Andy Warhol’s then-companion John Giorno, sleeping. There are several points of view, several bands of images that follow one another or overlap. This Andy Warhol film, like others (Empire, for example, is a movie over 8 hours long that shows a sunset in slow motion over the Empire State Building) is a mockery of the industry of Hollywood. Andy Warhol totally assumes the unprofessional look of his films, and the pain one can feel in watching them.
4. Blow Job, 1964
In the same vein as Sleep, Andy Warhol’s film Blow Job can be considered as very experimental. It is also very sulphureous… Not because of what it represents, but on the contrary because of what it hides. This thirty-five minute film shows the face of the actor DeVeren Boolwalter… while someone gives him oral sex! Two years later Andy Warhol would shoot a sequel to that film, this time about the face of an art critic in the same situation.
5. Chelsea Girls, 1966
Chelsea Girls is arguably Andy Warhol’s most accomplished film in artistic research. This is a diptych film, that is to say with two strips of images juxtaposed side by side. It traces the day of a “Chelsea girl,” a young girl from New York living in the posh and trendy district of Chelsea. In this instance, the Chelsea girl is Nico, the singer of the band Velvet Underground. The film alternates the images in black and white, and those in color; sound images and silent ones; the bright colors, the excess of light, the shadows. For more than three hours, a cruel allegory of loneliness unfolds before our eyes…
Warhol and Video Art
Andy Warhol’s career as a videographer was not long. It lasted just over a decade. His works were not shown much during his lifetime. It was only later, notably thanks to the rise of Video Art, that his films gained renewed attention. And today, Andy Warhol is one of the great artists of Video Art.
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